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How to Retain Talent

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 16 Oct 2010 | comments*Discuss
How To Retain Talent

Keeping your best talent onboard is crucial to a company’s ability to thrive and prosper. It ensures your customers remain satisfied increases your sales and enables you to plan for future developments better.

Exit Interviews

Exit interviews have become increasingly popular over recent years. When an employee leaves, he or she will usually be invited to an informal meeting with their immediate supervisor or boss. Whilst this meeting will be simply to have a cordial conversation about a worker’s plans and to tie up any loose ends for HR and the administration team, it can also benefit the company.

Many companies now give employees who are leaving a questionnaire to fill in and it’s this part of the exit interview that is extremely invaluable to employers as it allows workers to put down in writing what they enjoyed about working for the company, suggestions for things that could have been done better and the reasons why they have chosen to leave their job. And, as they no longer have to be diplomatic and coy, they’ll often be very honest and candid in their responses, which can be of great assistance to a company with regards to any potential changes they may have to consider in terms of how they treat their staff in the future.

Why Some Companies Fail to Hold on to Talented Workers

The vast majority of us would probably put ‘more money’ at the top of the list of the reasons people leave one job for another but you’d be very wrong in holding that assumption. In fact, it’s your immediate supervisor who has the key role to play in keeping a talented employee satisfied and it’s not enough for a supervisor and a worker to simply like each other and get on. There is much more to it than that.

The main reasons cited by people leaving their company to join another is a lack of clarity about their role and what was expected of them, a lack of clarity about future prospects and earnings potential, not enough feedback on their performance, not enough meetings to discuss progress and development and not providing a proper environment and framework in which the employee felt they could succeed and progress. So, how can companies ensure that they keep their best talent from heading off elsewhere?

Tips for Retaining Talent

  • Open communication is one of the best ways of keeping your best talent. Encourage ideas and debate between both staff and bosses and between staff themselves.
  • Companies need to provide a framework by which feedback can be provided to employees on a regular basis and any constructive criticism from employees in terms of how to do things differently to make things work better should be encouraged.
  • Don’t make the mistake of thinking that an employee is simply a ‘one-trick pony’.
  • Many talented people leave companies because they get pigeon-holed by bosses in that bosses think that they have a narrowly defined role and that this is all they can do so, ultimately, workers feel stifled by not being let off the leash to demonstrate their true potential in other areas.
  • Most talented people are often multi-skilled which means they have resources, which can be transferred to a wide range of other jobs within a company. Therefore, an employer should be encouraged to tap into these other skills and to recognise that certain workers can be deployed in a variety of roles and, it may well be that they are even more suited to a role within the company than the one they already have.
  • Workers need to feel recognised and rewarded for high achievement. Yes, money in the form of bonuses and commissions does help, but it goes far deeper than that. Simply saying ‘thank you’ for the effort somebody has put in can go a lot further than some bosses would realise and awards and recognition don’t have to be just about money in cash terms.
  • Being rewarded with a day’s pampering at a spa or being given a ticket to go and watch a football match, for example, is sometimes even better recognition – especially if a company has gone to some trouble to find out an employee’s interests away from the workplace.
  • Workers need to know how and where they fit into the overall ‘jigsaw puzzle’ that makes up the company. They need to feel recognised and to feel that they have an important role to play as individuals, as well as being a part of a much larger team.
  • Being give opportunities to stretch oneself and to take on more responsibilities should also be encouraged and there should be proper training provided, an open learning policy and a real scope for career development.
  • There should be no ‘them’ and ‘us’ culture between workers and bosses. This only fosters resentment. Instead, an employer should fully co-operate and work with staff to find the best solutions and to try to create ‘win-win’ situations as much as possible. Talented workers want to be creative and influential and personally feel that they have played an active part in a company’s success.On that note, it’s also fundamental to recognise diversity in the workplace and for companies to take a flexible approach to how they get the best out of all of the varying talents their workforce possess individually as well as collectively.

Although business moves fast and the time it would take to mentor each and every one of your staff individually would be quite time consuming, in the long run it does pay off handsomely in that your workforce will see themselves as valued individuals as well as being part of a much larger team. To keep hold of them by keeping them happy and motivated not only enables your company to prosper but reduces the risk of people taking their talents elsewhere which is often very costly to employers who will have then wasted vast sums of money and time spent on training them, not to mention the additional cost and upheaval of training their replacements.

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